National to drop taxes on EVs, allow them into bus lanes

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Words: Matthew Hansen
11 Sep 2020

As New Zealand rushes towards its next election, the National Party has confirmed the reprisal of a proposal to reduce the cost of owning an electric car and to allow them to use bus lanes in order to encourage more Kiwis to consider adopting electric.

National hopes that the plan can help stimulate the market, with the goal of achieving 80,000 EVs on Kiwi roads by 2023 — four times the current amount.

Should National win the election, it plans to make EVs exempt from fringe benefit tax until 2025 and road user charges until at least 2023 — an extension of current RUC exemptions. It also plans to make a third of the Government’s light vehicle fleet electric by 2023. EV owners will also be given better parking options in high density areas like Auckland City.

National plans to implement special license plates for electric vehicles in order to ensure the cars entering and exiting bus lanes and other limited-access areas aren’t internal combustion imposters. The push is estimated to cost $93million over four years, which includes $55million for the loss of fringe benefit tax that would otherwise be claimed, and $38million to electrify the Government fleet.

It’s not the first time that National has considered making EV ownership easier. When it was last in Government in 2016, legislation was passed allowing electric car owners to use bus lanes. A lack of follow-up consultation and a vote against the legislation by Auckland Transport then meant a trade — EVs wouldn’t be allowed to use bus lanes, but would be allowed to use T2 and T3 lanes.

"Our ambitious and comprehensive plan will encourage the purchase of EVs, create a thriving second-hand EV market, support sustainable transport infrastructure, and lower carbon emissions," said National leader Judith Collins.

"This ambitious plan will make EVs cheaper and easier to own without unfairly taxing Kiwis."

Whether the plan will attract Kiwis into EVs remains to be seen. The previous trial to allow EV owners to use T2 and T3 lanes was found to have not worked, with subsequent studies showing that Kiwis were more concerned about environmental questions and running costs.

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